The Laws of Freedom
We don’t typically like rules. We acknowledge they’re necessary for a healthy society, and usually don’t have a problem expecting others to follow them, but we’re generally pretty good at coming up with excuses for why we don’t personally need to follow the rules. And frankly, that’s understandable. Most of the rules we deal with on a daily basis are human-made and subject to human failings. For every human law that is genuinely in our best interest, there are many more that oppress and disadvantage. So while most Christians understand, at least on an intellectual level, the spiritual importance of the Ten Commandments, separating them from our feelings about the restrictive and controlling nature of rules is difficult. The good news is that, as Pastor Eric preached, God’s laws set us free.
Unlike the fallible and often corrupt humans who make our laws and regulations, God has unconditional love for us and only wants what’s best for us at all times. Therefore, we can trust that His rules truly are for our benefit. He has no ulterior motives, no desire to subjugate us, no intention of exploiting us. The easiest example of God showing love through His commandments is “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” Through this rule, God shows us that He wants all people, bosses and laborers, to make time for rest. He doesn’t want us spending all our time slaving away for material pursuits. Others may not be as obvious. For instance, why is coveting something of our neighbor’s so wrong? If we’re jealous of what our neighbors have, won’t that just inspire us to work harder to get what they’ve got? And besides, coveting is just a feeling, so it’s not hurting anyone. But the truth is, God created us to be in community with our fellow humans and when we covet, we sour our feelings toward the person who has what we want. It spoils the relationship with that person, hurting both parties. God’s command not to covet our neighbor’s stuff frees us to have loving and caring relationships with one another. But how do we turn off the healthy skepticism we have toward human-made rules when it comes to God’s law? Like many questions of a spiritual nature, the answer lies in prayer and spending time in Scripture. Often when a law is laid out in the Bible, it includes an explanation of why it’s important. And when it doesn’t, the answer can be found through prayerfully digging deeper into God’s Word and intention. When approaching Biblical law, we can’t go wrong by remembering God’s motivations are always based on unconditional love for us.
Father in Heaven, thank you so much for basing Your law on pure love. It’s such a blessing to know that we can trust You always have our best interests in mind. In addition, please help us to prayerfully discern which human rules bring You glory and not blindly accept or reject them. Help us have the wisdom to always put Your law first, because we know it’s based in love. Amen.
Written by Preston Thiemann
The Ten Commandments
Then God spoke all these words:
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation[b] of those who love me and keep my commandments.
You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.
Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid[d] and trembled and stood at a distance, and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin.” Then the people stood at a distance, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.
Preston Thiemann and his wife, Rachel, live here in Lincoln. He is the Web Content Coordinator for the ASEM Marketing team at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, where he’s worked since April 2015. At Sheridan, he also plays guitar with the Praise Band and is active in Sheridan’s 20s & 30s group called Second Quarter. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, watching movies and spending time with friends.